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txp

Feb 22, 2014, 8:44 AM

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Safety in DF and Southern Mexico

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Hi everyone,

It's been about 10 years since I last traveled to Mexico due to safety concerns. However, I believe things have calmed down somewhat and I am considering a trip there this summer. For those familiar with the areas below, I would appreciate your views about safety:

1. DF. Travel to/from the airport and Reforma, Polanco, Zocalo, Coyocan, and between these areas.

2. Teotihuacan. Travel to/from the Reforma area in DF on Insurgentes & expressway to the pyramids. Day trip from DF.

3. Puebla. Day trip from DF on the expressway off Viaducto.

4. Palenque. Road trip by car rental from Villahermosa Airport. Day travel both ways, overnight in Palenque.

5. Bonampak. *this one is uncertain* Day trip from Palenque by car.

6. Playa del Carmen resort area. Travel by car from Cancun airport.

7. Coba. Day trip from Playa.

8. Tulum and beaches to the south. Day trip from Playa.

9. Chichen Itza. Day trip from Playa via Cancun and the toll road.

I have driven many times in Mexico (including DF) and I think I can handle the traffic. My questions here pertain strictly to personal safety (kidnapping, being caught in drug-related violence, etc.).

Thank you!

(This post was edited by txp on Feb 22, 2014, 8:45 AM)



Anonimo

Feb 22, 2014, 8:55 AM

Post #2 of 35 (15953 views)

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Re: [txp] Safety in DF and Southern Mexico

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1. DF. Travel to/from the airport and Reforma, Polanco, Zocalo, Coyocan, and between these areas.


By taxi, or what? Safe by taxi.



Saludos,
Anonimo


yucatandreamer


Feb 22, 2014, 9:07 AM

Post #3 of 35 (15946 views)

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Re: [txp] Safety in DF and Southern Mexico

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I have done all the Yucatan, Tabasco and Chiapas trips more than once. I have never had any safety concerns or seen anything that caused me to worry. I have traveled both the main roads and the back roads in this area. Watch for gas scams particularly when traveling through Campeche, but they can happen anywhere.

Mexico city routes I walked and took public transportation(subway, taxi, bus). I was by myself and never felt any concern. I was not out horribly late at night and walked with a purpose.

Cannot help with Puebla or Teotihuacan routes. However you have picked main roads over well traveled highways and I cannot imagine any problems aside from a fore mentioned gas scams and the horrible traffic in and around Villahermosa.


txp

Feb 22, 2014, 9:11 AM

Post #4 of 35 (15944 views)

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Re: [Anonimo] Safety in DF and Southern Mexico

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1. DF. Travel to/from the airport and Reforma, Polanco, Zocalo, Coyocan, and between these areas.


By taxi, or what? Safe by taxi.


Sorry for being incomplete in my previous message. I intend to do all this by (rented) car. Yes, even DF. It's not that bad once you learn a few unwritten rules...


txp

Feb 22, 2014, 9:13 AM

Post #5 of 35 (15940 views)

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Re: [yucatandreamer] Safety in DF and Southern Mexico

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I have done all the Yucatan, Tabasco and Chiapas trips more than once. I have never had any safety concerns or seen anything that caused me to worry. I have traveled both the main roads and the back roads in this area. Watch for gas scams particularly when traveling through Campeche, but they can happen anywhere.

Mexico city routes I walked and took public transportation(subway, taxi, bus). I was by myself and never felt any concern. I was not out horribly late at night and walked with a purpose.

Cannot help with Puebla or Teotihuacan routes. However you have picked main roads over well traveled highways and I cannot imagine any problems aside from a fore mentioned gas scams and the horrible traffic in and around Villahermosa.


Thanks a lot, this is very helpful. As for the Villahermosa traffic, I do not intend to go in the city proper. The airport is on the south-east side of the city, on the road to Palenque.


txp

Feb 22, 2014, 9:17 AM

Post #6 of 35 (15937 views)

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Re: [txp] Safety in DF and Southern Mexico

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I just thought of one more question:

What type of car should I rent to minimize attention? Back in the days I found the ubiquitous VW Beetle perfectly adequate and safe because no one was paying any attention to it. Now, there's four of us travelling plus bags, so the choices are either a minivan or an SUV. My preference would be an SUV, but I fear that this could attract undue attention (particularly the Suburban) so I might have to settle for the more "boring" minivan.

Any thoughts on this would be most welcome!

Thanks!


(This post was edited by txp on Feb 22, 2014, 2:26 PM)


playaboy

Feb 22, 2014, 9:44 AM

Post #7 of 35 (15926 views)

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Re: [txp] Safety in DF and Southern Mexico

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I would be extremely careful in Playa del Carmen. Keep an eye on your wallet. There are plenty places with great food and entertainment. While on the beach stay clear of the topless women. Watch out for for those bars where they have beautiful young women, and I guess men, just want to pour that Tequila down your throat. At some cenotes there are fish that will eat all the dead skin off your feet. If you dive, those sea turtle and lobsters are just looking to eat tourists.

Playa del Carmen is dangerous. It is a place for mucho serious fun and could be dangerous to your wallet.


(This post was edited by playaboy on Feb 24, 2014, 11:21 AM)


txp

Feb 22, 2014, 9:51 AM

Post #8 of 35 (15923 views)

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Re: [playaboy] Safety in DF and Southern Mexico

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I would be extremely careful in Playa del Carmen. Keep an eye on your wallet. There are plenty places with great food and entertainment. While on the beach stay clear of the topless women. Watch out for for those bars where they have beautiful young women, and I guess men, just want to pour that Tequila down your throat. At some cenotes there are fish that will eat all the dead skin off your feet. If you dive, those sea turtle and lobsters are just looking to eat tourists.

Playa del Carmen is dangerous. It is a place for to mucho serious fun and could be dangerous to your wallet.


Sounds like nothing has really changed in ten years, just as I remember it! Thanks for the heads up. :-)


fordmexico

Feb 22, 2014, 3:04 PM

Post #9 of 35 (15883 views)

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Re: [txp] Safety in DF and Southern Mexico

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For the Mexico City area on 1, 2, and 3 there should be no security problems providing your travel is within the hours of 6 AM to 11 PM and you utilize main traffic routes.

We live close to Insurgentes in the northern D.F not too far from the pyramids. and travel that route all the time with no problems. I would buy gas at the Pemex stations along Insurgentes and not venture off the main road in the Ecatepec area.

Travel to and from the airport and "Reforma" during normal hours and utilizing the Circuito Interior is also quite safe.

Polanco, the Zocalo, Coyocan are also very safe. Park in guarded lots rather than on the street. Paseo de La Reforma and the Zocalo have been the site of numerous protests and marches in opposition to Enrique Pena Nieto's reforms (Pact with Mexico). Although things are presently fairly quiet at the moment, these protests can occur very quickly and the associated areas should be avoided, especially when you are driving.

Travel on expressways linking the D. F. with Puebla, Toluca, Cuernavaca and Queretero are fine except for numerous accidents involving larger trucks.

You will see numerous SUV's of all sizes as well as minivans on the roads and consequently would not draw any undue attention. Suburbans are generally utilized by government officials, corporate executives and wealthy individuals. Many are armored and all would attract attention. I don't think I would want to drive in D. F. traffic with one regardless of security concerns.

Traffic in the D.F. has increased dramatically in the last 10 years. Rush hour traffic is now from 6 AM to 10 AM in the morning and from 1:30 PM to 8 or 9 PM in the evening along many of the routes. Growth has pushed further north and south along the Periferico, north along Insurgentes and out towards Sante Fe. Expressways have been expanded by double decking along with some new ones being built. All of the new ones require tolls and most do not except cash.

In general, Mexico City is now one of the safest areas in Mexico, The carjackings,express kidnappings and taxi robberies are no longer common. Using the same precautions that one would use in the USA regarding late hours, sketchy places, obvious shows of wealth, sobriety and exercising good commonsense should keep you safe.


txp

Feb 22, 2014, 3:37 PM

Post #10 of 35 (15874 views)

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Re: [fordmexico] Safety in DF and Southern Mexico

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For the Mexico City area on 1, 2, and 3 there should be no security problems providing your travel is within the hours of 6 AM to 11 PM and you utilize main traffic routes.

We live close to Insurgentes in the northern D.F not too far from the pyramids. and travel that route all the time with no problems. I would buy gas at the Pemex stations along Insurgentes and not venture off the main road in the Ecatepec area.

Travel to and from the airport and "Reforma" during normal hours and utilizing the Circuito Interior is also quite safe.

Polanco, the Zocalo, Coyocan are also very safe. Park in guarded lots rather than on the street. Paseo de La Reforma and the Zocalo have been the site of numerous protests and marches in opposition to Enrique Pena Nieto's reforms (Pact with Mexico). Although things are presently fairly quiet at the moment, these protests can occur very quickly and the associated areas should be avoided, especially when you are driving.

Travel on expressways linking the D. F. with Puebla, Toluca, Cuernavaca and Queretero are fine except for numerous accidents involving larger trucks.

You will see numerous SUV's of all sizes as well as minivans on the roads and consequently would not draw any undue attention. Suburbans are generally utilized by government officials, corporate executives and wealthy individuals. Many are armored and all would attract attention. I don't think I would want to drive in D. F. traffic with one regardless of security concerns.

Traffic in the D.F. has increased dramatically in the last 10 years. Rush hour traffic is now from 6 AM to 10 AM in the morning and from 1:30 PM to 8 or 9 PM in the evening along many of the routes. Growth has pushed further north and south along the Periferico, north along Insurgentes and out towards Sante Fe. Expressways have been expanded by double decking along with some new ones being built. All of the new ones require tolls and most do not except cash.

In general, Mexico City is now one of the safest areas in Mexico, The carjackings,express kidnappings and taxi robberies are no longer common. Using the same precautions that one would use in the USA regarding late hours, sketchy places, obvious shows of wealth, sobriety and exercising good commonsense should keep you safe.


All this is awesome advice, and incredibly useful. Thank you!

I am glad I asked about the Suburban. I'll go with a minivan or a smaller SUV.

Thanks also for the heads up re: DF traffic. When on vacation, I don't mind the extra 30-45 min to get to my destination. I can see on Google maps that the Periferico is turning into a parking lot at rush hours. Last time I was in DF, the worst traffic was around Ciudad Satelite. Now it's everywhere!


citlali

Feb 22, 2014, 10:08 PM

Post #11 of 35 (15847 views)

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Re: [txp] Safety in DF and Southern Mexico

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I find Yaxchilan a whole lot more interesting and beautiful than Bonampak.
I live part of the year in Chiapas and have visited these place several times.
I usually spend the night at the Chablis in Palenque which is in the Cañada and take a van early in the morning that takes me to Frontera Corazol and I stay at the hotel on the river there. When I arrive I book a room and take the first boat out to Yaxchilan then on the way back I take a colectivo to Bonampak, there you have to take another coletivo at the entrance as they do not allow cars to go in and it is too far to walk. I then take a colectivo back to the hotel and it is a ful day. I usually go back out the next day.
Palenque to Frontera Corazol is 2 to 3 hours, depending if you stop and how fast you go more like 2 than 3 .

All the areas you are going to are pretty much part of the tourist routes and are pretty safe except of course at night. The Yucatan is one of the safest area in the country and Chiapas is pretty safe for tourists as well especially the areas you are going to.

We drive a lot in Southern Mexico and have a small suv and like the high clearance but then we go on back roads and dirt road. The road beween Palenque and Frontera Corozal is very good or was last year.so you would be fine with any car..


(This post was edited by citlali on Feb 22, 2014, 10:14 PM)


txp

Feb 22, 2014, 10:56 PM

Post #12 of 35 (15843 views)

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Re: [citlali] Safety in DF and Southern Mexico

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I find Yaxchilan a whole lot more interesting and beautiful than Bonampak.
I live part of the year in Chiapas and have visited these place several times.
I usually spend the night at the Chablis in Palenque which is in the Cañada and take a van early in the morning that takes me to Frontera Corazol and I stay at the hotel on the river there. When I arrive I book a room and take the first boat out to Yaxchilan then on the way back I take a colectivo to Bonampak, there you have to take another coletivo at the entrance as they do not allow cars to go in and it is too far to walk. I then take a colectivo back to the hotel and it is a ful day. I usually go back out the next day.
Palenque to Frontera Corazol is 2 to 3 hours, depending if you stop and how fast you go more like 2 than 3 .

All the areas you are going to are pretty much part of the tourist routes and are pretty safe except of course at night. The Yucatan is one of the safest area in the country and Chiapas is pretty safe for tourists as well especially the areas you are going to.

We drive a lot in Southern Mexico and have a small suv and like the high clearance but then we go on back roads and dirt road. The road beween Palenque and Frontera Corozal is very good or was last year.so you would be fine with any car..


Thanks very much for your post and for the many details. It's comforting to hear that you think the area is safe.

Do you think it would be possible to do Yaxchilan in one day from Palenque? I would leave at 6 am, arrive FC around 8:30. From there I would hire a boat to take us to Y (1-2 hours?) If we arrive at Y around 10 am, spend 3 hours there, leave at 1 pm, back in FC around 2:30, I should be able to make it back to Palenque before dark. Is this realistic?

Thanks again, I appreciate it very much!


Altahabana


Feb 23, 2014, 4:12 AM

Post #13 of 35 (15836 views)

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Re: [txp] Safety in DF and Southern Mexico

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It seems when you were referring to safety or security concerns, you meant narco violence. None of the places on your itinerary have experienced much of that, if any at all.


citlali

Feb 23, 2014, 8:45 AM

Post #14 of 35 (15808 views)

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Re: [txp] Safety in DF and Southern Mexico

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I have done the Palenque Frontera Corazol Yaxchilan Bonampack in one day at least 4 times but you need to leave Palenque at day break around 6, take the first boat out to Yaxchilan, spend as much time as you can there, take the boat back and go to Bonampak which is close. Bonampak has one nice ting to see the painting, the rest can be skipped and then you can drive back to Palenque if you have to do it in one day. It is tiing to go back in the late afternoon but it can be done.
figure 2.30 h to get to the boat ramp , one hour for the bost IF it is leaving right away, they wait for the boat to be full but if you pay more you can leave with less people, one hour back. half hour to get to the Bonampak ruins. you need to park at the entrance and take the colectivo to the site and then back ..

If you have to skip a ruin skip Bonampak. Yaxchilan is magical. Make sure you go to the top of the large pyramid and down the other side and come back through the jungle to the boat.


(This post was edited by citlali on Feb 23, 2014, 8:48 AM)


esperanza

Feb 23, 2014, 11:59 AM

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Re: [txp] Safety in DF and Southern Mexico

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Be sure to book your vehicle in the DF a long time in advance and CONFIRM the day before you need it. DF friends booked a van of the kind you want with an airport car rental company and failed to confirm. The day they went to pick it up, no van-type vehicle was available. The company offered them an economy-size car instead--no dice! They had to race around the airport car rental places with their fingers crossed, looking for a rental to accommodate 4 adults and 4 children.

They finally found one, but it turned out to be a lemon and a half. Between the DF and Villahermosa: two flat tires and a serious suspension problem. The tires were mostly bald and the suspension a total mess. Fortunately no one was injured, but the resulting road delays were impressive and frustrating: 15 hours from the DF to Villahermosa.

Rent early and confirm!

http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









(This post was edited by esperanza on Feb 23, 2014, 12:00 PM)


citlali

Feb 26, 2014, 8:28 PM

Post #16 of 35 (15657 views)

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Re: [txp] Safety in DF and Southern Mexico

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Update, we just did Yaxchilan and Bonampak in the last two days. Right now you cannot do both in one day unless you are already there.
The road from Palenque to Bonampak takes 3 hours then you have to take a little van to Bonampak ruins, another 10 minutes , the rooms with the paintings are on the plaza so that does not take too long to see then it is back to the entrance and one hour to Frontera Corozal because they are redoing part of the road and there are delays, the boat ride from Escudo Jaguar is 45 minutes to one hour, same to go back and they leave you for 2 hours at the ruins but you can go back sooner if you wish.
Another hour to go bac to the embarcadero and then 4 hours back to Palenque...

You end uo rushing and taking 13 hours..can be done but it is a rush and it is pretty warm and humid.
There is Hoel Escudo Jaguar right at the river if you cannot go bac the same day .


txp

Feb 26, 2014, 8:48 PM

Post #17 of 35 (15652 views)

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Re: [citlali] Safety in DF and Southern Mexico

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Thanks a lot; I was not planning on Bonampak. Only Yaxchilan. Can this be done in one day from Palenque?

Three more related questions, if I may:

1/ Is the road from Palenque to Frontera C safe? I read on some website that some time ago even buses had to go under police escort. Is this still the case?

2/ How is the road from Palenque to San Cristobal? Some tourists reported bandidos on this road. I am considering going all the way around though Villahermosa and stay on toll roads to avoid the bandidos. But this would take about 6.5 hours. Going through the mountains should take about 5, and it's much prettier from what I heard. What do you recommend?

3/ I just purchased the latest Guia Roji map pf Mexico. It shows a non-existent bridge between Mexico and Guatemala, just downstream from Frontera Corozal. It also shows a road on the other side that goes to Tikal. Do you know if they are building this bridge? Or was it just a vision the GR editor might have had? :-)

Thanks again!


txp

Feb 26, 2014, 8:50 PM

Post #18 of 35 (15651 views)

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Re: [Altahabana] Safety in DF and Southern Mexico

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It seems when you were referring to safety or security concerns, you meant narco violence. None of the places on your itinerary have experienced much of that, if any at all.


Thanks. I am referring mostly to narco violence, but also to the possibility of bandidos in the south, such as on the border road near Guatemala, or on the road between Palenque and San Cristobal.


txp

Feb 26, 2014, 8:59 PM

Post #19 of 35 (15648 views)

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Re: [fordmexico] Safety in DF and Southern Mexico

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Traffic in the D.F. has increased dramatically in the last 10 years. Rush hour traffic is now from 6 AM to 10 AM in the morning and from 1:30 PM to 8 or 9 PM in the evening along many of the routes. Growth has pushed further north and south along the Periferico, north along Insurgentes and out towards Sante Fe. Expressways have been expanded by double decking along with some new ones being built. All of the new ones require tolls and most do not except cash.


Looking at the most recent Guia Roji map of DF, along with Google Maps and Google earth, I discovered some fascinating improvements to the urban road network in DF. Thanks for mentioning this.

I would appreciate your help with a few more questions; I could not find the answer anywhere else:

(1) Is the autopista urbana poniente now open?
(2) How about the viaducto bicentenario, the autopista urbana norte and the autopista urbana sur?
(3) Safety on the autopista Mexico Curenavaca (toll)?
(4) Safety on the highway from Cuernavaca to Taxco? I noticed that Taxco is in the state of Guerrero, a state that's supposed to be quite dangerous.

Thanks again!


fordmexico

Feb 27, 2014, 7:07 AM

Post #20 of 35 (15620 views)

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Re: [txp] Safety in DF and Southern Mexico

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For more on the status of the various expressways in the DF area try these websites:

http://www.transparenciaautopistaurbana.df.gob.mx/index3.html

http://www.ohlmexico.com.mx/...dM=177_682&nvl=2

Other than normal traffic accidents, safety is not an issue on any of the expressways you mention. You may encounter various demonstrations including the blocking of roads and/or toll booths occasionally that will effect transit times.


(This post was edited by RickS on Feb 28, 2014, 1:27 PM)


citlali

Feb 27, 2014, 8:34 PM

Post #21 of 35 (15563 views)

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Re: [txp] Safety in DF and Southern Mexico

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No one can guaranty no bandido but I have not heard of any bandidos for a few years now.on the Palenque San Cristobal road.
San Cristobal Palenque is a 5 hour drive and the road between Ocosingo Palenque need some repairs righ now.It is not in great reapir so you need to go slowly .

I have not heard of any bandidos on the Escudo Jaguar Frontera Corozal road either but it does not have a whole lot of traffic on it and I would not do it after dark.

I have heard of incidents on the Benemerito las Americas Guacayamas as Nubes and the fronteriza road before but nothing recent.

Wether you can do Yachilan Palaenque in on day is up to you We would but it is pretty tiring.
it is 4hours to Escudo Jaguar´s embarcacadero , 4 hours to visit Yachilan broken down into 2 hours on the boat and 2 hours in the park and then another 4 hours on the road. You can leave Palenque at 6 am, direction Ocosingo. arrive at the embarcoadero at 10am , arrive at Yaxilan at 11 or 11.30 depending on the boat you take, arrive back at Escudo Jaguar at 2.30 and drive back 4 hours to arrive in Palenque at 6.30. You should pack a lunch as you will not have time for lunch in a restaurant if you want to arrive back before dark.
You can also take a tour from Palenque that will tae care of all the details for you and have drivers that are used to drive at night if they are late. That maybe a better option for you if you are afraid of being alone on the road.
There is road work before arriving in Frontera Corozal and the 4h estimate includes a 30 minute delay we experienced, that I am sure can vary as well.
Do not over worry about the security in the area and if it is dar by the time you get on the road that comes in from Ocosingo it is not the end of the world either.

Chiapas is really pretty safe. You will have kids with ropes blocking the roads to sell something but just slow down and keep going they will drop the rope. People will approach you to sel you fruit and juices on topes but the are just trying to make a living.
There is police and military on the road and you also get stopped but as a foreigner you probably will be ask where you come from and where you go and you will be on your way.
There are also many unmarked topes on the road so you cannot really speed on the road .


txp

Mar 2, 2014, 7:37 AM

Post #22 of 35 (15487 views)

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Re: [fordmexico] Safety in DF and Southern Mexico

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For more on the status of the various expressways in the DF area try these websites:

http://www.transparenciaautopistaurbana.df.gob.mx/index3.html

http://www.ohlmexico.com.mx/...dM=177_682&nvl=2

Other than normal traffic accidents, safety is not an issue on any of the expressways you mention. You may encounter various demonstrations including the blocking of roads and/or toll booths occasionally that will effect transit times.


Thanks. I took a look and it was very helpful. It looks like almost all new toll roads are operational now. Good news (except for my wallet)!


txp

Mar 2, 2014, 7:39 AM

Post #23 of 35 (15483 views)

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Re: [citlali] Safety in DF and Southern Mexico

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Thanks a lot for this detailed report. This pretty much covers all my question. The trip is planned for July and I will report back after the trip! Again, thank you!


esperanza

Mar 2, 2014, 7:50 AM

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Re: [txp] Safety in DF and Southern Mexico

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Remember that the rainy season will be full upon us in all the parts of Mexico where you are traveling. Keep an eye on the weather reports for days you plan to be on the road, and watch the news reports also for all-too-frequent highway outages.

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txp

Mar 2, 2014, 8:06 AM

Post #25 of 35 (15475 views)

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Re: [esperanza] Safety in DF and Southern Mexico

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Remember that the rainy season will be full upon us in all the parts of Mexico where you are traveling. Keep an eye on the weather reports for days you plan to be on the road, and watch the news reports also for all-too-frequent highway outages.


Yes, I am aware but don't have much choice because of kids vacation. We'll do our best!
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